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Stephanie Kaplan LewisStephanie Kaplan Lewis

Summer is just around the corner. After months of reading textbooks and completing assignments, many girls want to chill out during summer vacation. While summer vacation is the perfect time to relax, it's also a good time to earn some extra cash and gain experience and skills that you can use in your future workplace.

Stephanie Kaplan Lewis is co-founder & CEO of Her Campus Media, a media brand for the empowered college woman. And she wants to equip you with some tools and advice to rock your summer job or internship, while having fun.

Read our interview with Stephanie to learn what she wants every girl to know about summer fun, jobs and internships, academic success, and job interviews.

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When it comes to summer vacation, what do you think girls can do to make the most of it?

Have fun! Although there are many things you can do over the summer, it's also a well-deserved break from the school year. Take this time to rest and make fun plans with friends old and new — this is your time off!

If you're staying home, this is the perfect opportunity to learn new skills — such as cooking or playing an instrument — or to develop a new fitness routine. You may also find that volunteering is a fulfilling summer activity that will help you learn about your community.

If you're able to travel or study abroad, this is probably one of the best things you can do over the summer. You'll discover new places and a new culture and meet new people. Other than that, getting a part-time job or internship can prove really valuable when it comes to gaining career experience, adding to your resume, and maybe even padding your wallet.

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What's the point of having a summer job or internship?

Having a summer job is a great way to save money for the school year and beyond. You could save up so you can afford to do fun things with your friends, or keep the money to save for college or a car, for instance.

An internship is one of the most valuable career experiences you can get. The summer is a great time to intern, since you can work full-time and truly immerse yourself in the company culture. Not only will this look great on your resume when you start applying for college and jobs, but you will also make professional contacts, which can be crucial in the job search. On a more personal level, you'll gain invaluable skills and learn whether or not this is a company or an industry you can see yourself working in long-term.

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Do you have advice for girls who may not know what kind of job or internship interests them?

If you don't know what kind of career you see yourself pursuing, make a list of a few things you think sound vaguely interesting. After that, reach out to people who work in those industries (e.g. family friends, teachers). Most of the time, they will be more than happy to grab coffee with you or answer any questions you have over email. If you still feel unsure at this point, it may be a good idea to just start interning. Every internship teaches you valuable lessons, even if it turns out you don't see yourself in that particular industry. Then at least you'll know!

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How can girls go about looking for a summer job or internship?

The first step is to make sure your online presence looks polished and professional. Delete anything you wouldn't want a potential employer to see from your online and social media accounts. Then, once you have an idea of the kind of job or internship you're looking for, it's time to start searching! Start by talking to your guidance counselor, and do some searching online. Be resourceful — email any contacts you have in the industry you'd like to work, and let them know you're looking for opportunities. If there's nothing available at their company, they might connect you with someone who is hiring. Asking for help is always a good idea. Just remember to be respectful and professional.

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Do you have interview tips — from what to wear to what to bring to what to say?

Dress to impress. I like a nice blazer and flats, for example. It's always better to overdress for an interview, even if you know the company follows or the job requires a casual dress code. Come prepared with two or three copies of your resume and an emergency kit for any wardrobe mishaps. Arrive early, but not too early — 10 to 15 minutes is a good ballpark.

When it comes to the interview, remember that the employer wants to know what you will bring to the company, rather than what you will get from it. Emphasize your skills, experience, and even personality as they relate to the position you're interviewing for, and make sure to prepare at least three questions to ask at the end of your interview. Finally, remember that the way you carry yourself is just as important as what you say: A firm handshake goes a long way, and your posture should be engaged and professional throughout the interview. It's okay to be nervous, but try your best to give confident answers so that the interviewer knows you'd be great for the role!

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Did you have a summer job or internship that is particularly memorable?

I had the privilege of interning at Seventeen in New York City when I was in college. I found a mentor in then-editor-in-chief Ann Shoket. The experience I had working there, and the people I met, have followed me throughout my time at Her Campus and informed so much of my career.

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We know summer is also a time for fun and relaxation. How can girls balance fun and the responsibilities of a new job or internship?

Learning how to balance work and life is a skill that will help you throughout your life. If your internship starts at 9 a.m., don't stay out late the night before. Even though you should show dedication to your job or internship, you can do this without working late. You should let your supervisor know if you think you have been assigned more tasks than you can handle. They won't think any less of you; on the contrary, they will appreciate your honesty and understand that you want to produce the best work you can. Additionally, however much you love your job, try not to take it home with you so that you are free to fully enjoy fun time.

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For girls who are starting to think about life after high school, what do you want them to know?

My advice is to try not to stress it: Yes, you should be investing time in your classes, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work, but try to focus on developing your interests and the rest will follow. Also, it may seem like your college decision is the most important decision you'll ever make, but I promise whatever happens, you will find the right place for you and love your college experience.

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What's your number one tip for school success?

Staying healthy overall will greatly increase your chance for academic success. Work hard, but leave time for personal fulfillment and your social life. Try your best to get a good night's sleep, exercise regularly, and choose healthy, balanced meals. These may seem like small things, but will make a world of difference.

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Learn more about exploring your career paths. Check out our Your Future section to learn more about writing a resume and getting ready for a job interview.

Content last reviewed May 30, 2017
Page last updated June 1, 2017

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.